I questioned whether or not to lump this under the "Other People's Recipes" banner, as it was greatly inspired by this recipe that I found on the internet. I wasn't seeking an orange chicken recipe that emulated Panda Express, but it seemed to be quite popular. Not only did it show up at the top of the search engine results when I began exploring what goes into orange chicken, but most other faux-Panda recipes seemed to emulate this one. It was a great place to start. The flavor profile was excellent. But not immune to changes, and more importantly; despite the high notes the recipe was hitting, it is terribly written.
The first thing you're going to want to do is make your orange sauce. In a small bowl, mix together 5 tablespoons each of sugar and white vinegar, 1 1/2 tablespoons each of soy sauce and orange juice, and a tablespoon of orange zest. Set the sauce aside.
|Trysta is always eager to help in the kitchen.|
Once you have our mise en place, you can make your batter for the tofu. Everything comes together pretty quickly at this point. Mix together an egg with two teaspoons of salt and some freshly ground pepper.
Now stir in a half a cup of cornstarch and a quarter cup of flour. This will get really lumpy and hard to stir. The recipe I am modifying leaves you at this point, with unworkable clumps of nothing. The commentary on that site showed me that a lot of people decided it worked better mixing the flour and cornstarch separately of the egg mix and dredging them that way, but that's not what we're going to do here....this lumpy mix is still perfectly usable, it just needs a bit of liquid love.
Stir in liquid until the lumps gain the consistency of a thick pancake batter (about half a cup of liquid). You can just use water, but I wanted something that complemented the orange flavor without being overwhelming, and used the juice of a freshly squeezed grapefruit (hence the pink chunks in the picture above).
Heat vegetable oil in a pan, deep enough to cover a piece of tofu, to medium-high heat. Once the oil begins to bubble, cook the tofu in batches--my twelve inch cast iron was able to fit them in four groups--so that they brown evenly, don't clump together, and don't cool the oil too rapidly (which will cause them to get logged with oil).
As you begin frying your first batch of tofu, you'll want to get two more skillets going over medium with just a tiny bit of oil to keep things from sticking--I simply used cooking spray, or you could use a non-stick pan if that sort of thing doesn't bother you.
Meanwhile, you should have a pretty good pile of golden brown tofu bites. Drain them on a paper towel, then toss them in the orange sauce until each piece is thoroughly coated. Put the tofu and vegetables on the rice and top with the green part of the green onion, sliced thinly. Makes six large portions.